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Baby Falls to Death After Elevator Doors Open to Empty Shaft, Police Say

By  Murray Weiss Ben Fractenberg and Kathleen Culliton | October 13, 2016 1:28pm | Updated on October 13, 2016 6:26pm

 A 6-week-old baby girl died after she plunged down an empty elevator shaft in Coney Island Thursday morning.
A 6-week-old baby girl died after she plunged down an empty elevator shaft in Coney Island Thursday morning.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

BROOKLYN — A 6-week-old baby girl died after she and her mother plummeted eight stories down an elevator shaft in Coney Island Thursday morning, officials said. 

The 21-year-old mother was waiting for an elevator on the 23rd floor of her building at 3415 Neptune Ave. at about 10:30 a.m. when the doors opened, an NYPD spokeswoman said.

The elevator was undergoing repairs on the 15th floor, though, and the mother inadvertently pushed the stroller into the empty shaft, plunging with her child, Areej Ali, down to the top of the elevator. The mother landed on Ali, and the elevator descended, though it was unclear how far, sources said.

Areej was rushed to Coney Island Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Her mother was also being treated for her injuries, sources said, though her condition was not immediately clear.

The elevator was being worked on by the Centennial Elevator Company, sources added, and it was not immediately clear why the door to the shaft opened on the 23rd floor. A woman who answered the phone for the company declined to comment.

The elevator passed inspections in January 2016 and on Aug. 8, but was issued a non-hazardous violation that day because its phone did not work, according to the Department of Buildings.

The DOB issued a cease use-order while its inspectors conducted an investigation, which will include an examination of every elevator in the building.

“Our inspectors will remain on scene to conduct a full investigation into this tragic accident. We will be testing all of the elevators in the building to ensure they are operating safely,” a DOB spokesman said in a statement. 

This is not the first death caused by a faulty elevator in the building complex — Chandler Johnson, 24, fell 15 stories down the elevator shaft of a neighboring building at 2750 West 33d Street in 1991, according to DOB records and a New York Times report.

Since Johnson's death, the complex has received almost 350 complaints from tenants detailing how the elevators jerked around, crushed the hand of a 10-year-old boy, and broke down so frequently that they felt "jailed" in their apartments, DOB records show. 

Mark Rosado, 54, who has on one of the higher levels of 3145 Neptune Ave. with his two daughters for the past five years, took a photograph of the elevator days before the incident because it was unaligned with the lobby floor by some inches. 


"No one is doing anything about it," Rosado said.

"The elevators jump," said Igor Nazarov, 59, who lives in a building next door. He added that when residents complain, management initially says it will take care of the issues, but nothing gets done.

"This is disgusting," Nazarov said of the accident.

Another woman who lives in the building and has children said she was afraid for them.

"That's terrible. God forbid it was my kid," she said, declining to give her name.